A Dark Victorian Valentine #2
Chapter 2 -- Help from an Admirer
Florence had been watching some of the boys work when she heard her father yelling. She heard the soft shiiink as he grabbed his whip off the hook.
A sad, yet familiar sound.
She watched as the boy -- 4193 -- was dragged off into the yard. Her blue eyes met his dusty brown ones, and her heart immediately began to race.
In his eyes, she didn't see the normal look for the boys here. Not the usual sorrowful look.
There was sorrow there, of course, but buried deep down, hidden from everyone. Atop this sorrow was a look of curiosity that she instantly adored. In his eyes she also saw bravery, and kindness. It was like a huge puzzle of emotions.
And she wanted to put the pieces together and solve it.
Florence hiked up her dress, walking over to the door as she heard the first cries of pain. She put her ear on the door and listened. Her heart quivered at the thought of the scars the boy must have -- will have after this.
How many lashes is he to have? she thought to herself. Surely not that many...
But to her dismay, the whipping and the cries continued on, even after the bell for the workers had rung, sending them off to their beds.
Finally, the cries stopped. She quickly moved out of the way as the door was flung open, 4193 stumbling inside before her father. He yelled and shooed him off to bed, then seemed to notice Florence. His mouth was agape.
"Florence!" he began his scolding. "It is past your curfew! Have you gone mad, little one?"
Florence paid no mind to her father, not hearing a word as the young boy stumbled off to his room. Her heart dropped into her stomach as she saw his bloodstained shirt.
Finally, he father shook her. "Florence Heralding, you listen to me! Get. To. Bed! NOW!"
She jumped at her father's tone, but, hiking up her dress once again, she took off, running for her room in the factory. Once there, she closed the door, slipping out of her dress and putting on a light green nightgown. She slipped into bed and listened to the heavy footsteps of her father slowly fade away.
Thump, thump, thump, thump...
Finally, a door slammed shut as the footsteps ceased. Her father had went to bed.
She threw off her covers and got up, walking to her closet. She opened it and dragged the heavy medical bag out.
Her mother's medical bag.
She ran her fingers over the embroidered name on the side.
She let out a soft sigh, then lifted the heavy bag, walking carefully over to the door. She opened her door with a soft creaak and walked down to the boy's barracks, her feet making faint sounds against the cold, metal floor.
She looked at the numbers on each door.
She stopped at the next door.
Slowly, she opened the door, stepping in quietly. She closed the door behind her.
The small kerosene lamp was on, giving the room a soft and eerie glow. The boy was on his knees, his face buried in his thin sheet. His bloody shirt was laying on the floor, the wounds on his back clearly visible.
Florence's heart felt as if it stopped as she saw all the blood.
The boy suddenly looked up, gasping in pain as he did. Setting the bag down, Florence kneeled next to him, signaling him to be quiet.
The boy gave a small nod, recognition shining in his eyes as he whispered, "Who are you?"
"My name is Florence," she replied quietly. "I'm here to help you."
Florence opened the bag. "I saw you come in with your wounds, and..." She sighed as she pulled out the whiskey and the bandages. "I just had to help you."
The boy gave a small nod, his eyes widening at the whiskey. "Wh-What are you going to do with that?"
Florence put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, feeling him tense under her hand. "It disinfects the cuts, so they don't get...well...infected. It burns quite a bit, but it's good in the long run."
The boy gulped, then slowly nodded. "R-Right. Let's get it over with th-then..."
Florence nodded, then opened the whiskey. The smell filled the room as she gently poured it onto the boy's bleeding cuts. He gave a small hiss of pain and she remembered something her mother had told her.
She took one of his hands into hers and squeezed it gently.
His wonderful eyes seemed to widen, then something flickered in them. He gently squeezed back, his calloused hands against her soft and warm ones.
She smiled at him reassuringly as she stopped pouring the whiskey. She corked the bottle and replaced it in the bag, taking out the bandages.
"Now," she whispered. "I need you to stand up. These have to go all around your torso."
He nodded, seemingly in a daze. He stood slowly, and Florence felt her cheeks flush as she stared at his chest. He wasn't quite muscular, but the slight rise of his muscles made her cheeks feel warm.
Was he blushing as well?
Florence stepped forward slowly, feeling the heat off of his body. She held the bandage in place with one of his hands, and she began slowly wrapping his torso.
The process seemed to take an eternity, not one of them saying a word to one another.
Florence adjusted the bandages one last time, then stepped away, smiling at her handiwork.
The boy looked at her. "Thank you for this, Florence. I shall never forget it."
Florence closed the bag and picked it up. "It's no trouble at all."
As she walked to the door, he spoke softly.
"Ichabod," he whispered to her. "My name is Ichabod Willits. I beg of you to remember it, and not my number."
Florence said nothing for a moment, then spoke up. "I'll be sure to remember it."
Then she was out the door.
She made it to her room before she knew it. She placed the bag in it's spot, closing the closet door.
Then she curled up under her soft blankets, closing her eyes. She fell asleep and dreamed of a name.